Search Site

Can I Sue My Kid’s School Because She Got Hurt While Playing School Sports?

Sports related injuries in schools are not atypical. In fact, the main reason my brother wasn’t allowed to join the middle school football team was my own mother’s fear he’d end up with a back or head injury. While I sympathized with my brother, being forced to grapple with my over-protective mother, it turns out that some of these student athlete injuries are pretty serious. Not only are they pretty serious, but also some student athletes are looking for legal recourse through the federal judiciary. Maybe my mother wasn’t completely off…

This somewhat “new movement” takes root from a legal principle introduced in a tragic case. In Deshaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 1989, a young boy was physically abused by his father and although the Child reported the abuse to social workers and different officials, nothing was done to remove the Child from the Father’s custody. One day, after the reports had been made, Father beat the Child so severely that he ended up in a life-threatening coma. Although the Child survived, he was medically diagnosed as mentally retarded. Child, through his guardian, and Mother filed a §1983 action alleging that the social workers whom the Child had reported the abuse to deprived the Child of his liberty and due process by failing to intervene on his behalf. While the Court dismissed the Child’s claim, the notion of state actors and their responsibilities to the public made its way to the forefront. Importantly, the Supreme Court did not shut the door on bringing a claim against a state actor under § 1983, but left open the possibility that a constitutional violation could occur despite the absence of a special relationship when it stated: “while the state may have been aware of the dangers [Child] faced in the free world, it played no part in their creation, nor did they do anything to render them anymore vulnerable.” Deshaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services, 489 U.S. 1989, Kneipp v. Tedder, 95 F.3d 1199 (1996).

Now that the Courts have carved out this rule, it becomes applicable to coaches who ignore sports injuries and push the children to press on in spite of the clear health risks. Very recently, the U.S. District Court dismissed a claim against Downingtown High School for a sports injury that occurred when a girl was playing soccer. While playing, she attempted to head-butt the soccer ball but missed and hit another girl’s head and pummeled to the ground. In spite of the injury the girl was not removed from the field but continued playing and hitting the soccer ball with her head. Two days later, she was diagnosed with brain trauma and brought an action against the School District, the superintendent and the coach. Although the complaint was dismissed, the girl was given an opportunity to amend it. Undoubtedly, the eventual outcome of the case and cases similar to it, may have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, the students will be safeguarded against potentially serious injuries, but will the potential for liability have a chilling effect and frighten school districts away from implementing contact sports?

If you would like to discuss whether a student athlete you know can seek compensation for injuries sustained while playing a school sport, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Pagano Law Firm and schedule your free consultation.

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Client Testimonials
  • "I had a slip and fall in a grocery store and injured my shoulder to the point of needing surgery to repair. The Law Firm made contact with them to make restitution on my behalf. After going back and forth… they awarded me a settlement for my pain and medical bills. The [Firm] were super easy to work with and I would definitely… use them again. I was and am very satisfied with the end result. THANK YOU!"  -Bob S.

  • "When I got hurt at work I didn’t know what I was going to do being a single mom of three. It was very scary and only weeks before Christmas to boot. I was referred to the Pagano Law Firm by my mom and it was the best decision. The Firm took me under their wing and assured me everything would be okay. They handled everything and kept me posted along the way. I am so happy to be back on my feet in more ways than one… my case was handled with such care and the end result was more than I expected. I would recommend the Pagano Law Firm to everyone I know!"  -Jill

  • "We reached out to the Pagano Law Firm after a serious car accident. At the time it was not clear the extent of the injuries and what it would take to make us whole. The Pagano Law Firm attorneys were diligent in the handling of the case and advocated for us not just as clients but as friends. They were considerate and professional throughout the two years it took to bring the case to a close. Ultimately, we were successful in reaching a resolution that surpassed our expectations. We are very grateful to Marlo… and would recommend the firm for any legal concerns."  -M.V.

  • "Excellent. Awesome – very efficient. Thanks for everything."  -J.H.

  • "The Pagano Law Firm put our minds at ease in a difficult situation for us. They made us feel like family & were there with answers to any questions. They made our experience in a difficult situation a good one. Very thankful for the Pagano Law Firm and everyone there. Highly Recommend."  -Richard R.

  • "he Pagano Law Firm was so understanding and supportive in helping with our unexpected situation. We were so grateful to be working with such caring, supportive people. Thank you for all your help and support."  -M.R.

Our Office
  • Media Office
    115 West State Street
    Suite 401
    Media, Pennsylvania 19063
    Phone: 484-442-8750
    Fax: 484-442-8742
Awards & Affiliations